13 February 2020

In-house legal teams are lagging behind on technology, survey finds

In-house legal teams are lagging behind on technology, survey finds

Some 80% of respondents said they expect automation, big data and artificial intelligence will have a high or very high impact

Only 4% of respondents say their team's use of technology is ready to meet the needs of their business in the future

A majority of in-house legal teams fear their use of technology is not ‘fit for purpose’ to meet the demands of their business in 2025, according to new research from national UK law firm Irwin Mitchell.

The Future of In-House Legal report—which surveyed 113 in-house lawyers—examines the key trends and challenges that legal departments expect to face over the next five years, with a lack of technology being a prominent concern.

In-house teams said the areas they most need to improve to be ready for 2025 are technology (38%), processes (19%) and succession planning (18%). 

Some 80% of respondents said they expect technological innovations such as automation, big data and artificial intelligence will have a high or very high impact on their organisations over the next five years.

“Technological innovations won’t only impact how legal teams deliver their services, but also how the people they work for within their business deliver services,” said Nicki Clegg, chief technology officer at Irwin Mitchell.

The only areas where a majority of respondents said they already felt prepared to meet the demands and challenges of their business in five years were the legal team’s values (64%) and the legal team’s level of autonomy within the business (51%).

Respondents were also asked to outline their vision of the ideal legal department in 2025, with the survey finding that in-house teams want to be seen as a real partner to their business rather than a cost, as well as taking on a wider role within the business to provide additional services such as consultancy to complement their legal advice.

“The report highlights that the difference in the challenges faced by teams are considerable,” said Stuart Padgham, partner and head of commercial at Irwin Mitchell. “However, the common theme is that there is an expectation that technology will solve many of the problems created by an ever more complex working environment, but of equal importance is the need to develop the business skills and operating model of in-house teams so that they can deliver the services that their businesses require.”

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